Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday June 23, 2016
Waukesha, Wis., plan to tap into Lake Michigan called ‘wrong decision’
Leamington, Ont., Mayor John Paterson is irate after a group of eight U.S. governors voted Tuesday to allow a small Wisconsin town to draw its drinking water from Lake Michigan.
A panel representing governors of the eight states adjoining the Great Lakes unanimously approved a proposal from Waukesha, Wis., which is under a court order to find a solution to radium contamination of its groundwater wells. The city says the project will cost $265 million Cdn for engineering studies, pipelines and other infrastructure.Waukesha is only 27 kilometres from the lake but just outside the Great Lakes watershed. That required the city of about 72,000 to get special permission under the compact, which prohibits most diversions of water across the watershed boundary.
Paterson immediately took to Twitter to denounce the decision. His peninsula town, the self-proclaimed Tomato Capital of Canada and home to hundreds of greenhouses, is surrounded by Lake Erie.
“This should not be allowed,” Paterson told CBC News. “I’m really disappointed it happened. That was unexpected. I actually thought the governor of Michigan was going to side with us. He even bailed.”
The Michigan Senate adopted a resolution last month opposing Waukesha’s request. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder went against that and voted in favour of Waukesha’s plan Tuesday.
A 2008 pact established a potential exception for communities within counties that straddle the line. Waukesha is the first to request water under that provision.
“There are a lot of emotions and politics surrounding this issue, but voting yes — in co-operation with our Great Lakes
neighbours — is the best way to conserve one of our greatest natural resources,” Snyder said.
Snyder also took to social media, to defend his decision.(Source: CBC News)
No profiting for our natural resources
Letter to the Editor Wednesday June 27, 2016, RE: Editorial cartoon, June 22
I would like to thank Graeme MacKay for a very insightful editorial cartoon on the Waukesha request for diversion receiving permission to draw 8.2 million gallons of water per day from Lake Michigan.
Why should we care what’s going on in a town in the U.S. which is seemingly so far away?
Waukesha’s problems today stem back over a century ago when they started treating their natural springs as a “commodity” with private owners capitalizing on what is now a public disaster. Waukesha’s request for Lake Michigan water has been blamed entirely on a depleting aquifer due to increased population pressures. Waukesha’s population is merely 70,000 and interestingly enough is surrounded by water bottling companies (that have remained silent on the issue) that have drilled, along with the town itself, deeper and deeper wells for cleaner sources. Waukesha’s public wells now have high radium deposits and as a result its population has one of the highest cancer rates in the state if not the country.
It is my humble opinion that we have to be more responsible with our water. Like Flint, Michigan, responsible public oversight and policy is the key but even more so we must change our “throwaway culture” and adopt, what Pope Francis pleads for, a “culture of care.” No one should be profiting today from a natural resource while taking away, bit by bit, the future of our grandchildren.
Joseph Baiardo, Mount Hope